Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Lactic Acid Yeast: Hanseniaspora and Wickerhamomyces

Looking at this analysis of which microbes are active in a spontaneous lambic fermentation, it’s hard to see why Brettanomyces gets so much attention. There are dozens of different species of yeast and bacteria at work over the course of several years. From a sensory standpoint it is clear they have an out-sized influence over the finished beer, but they are one of many yeast that play a role in the fermentation. Just as 100% Brett beers have gained interest, recently so have 100% fermentations by other non-Saccharomyces yeast strains.

In particular there has been interest in yeast strains that produce lactic acid. This is a big deal as in almost all sour beers up until now it is bacteria (i.e., Lactobacillus or Pediococcus) that were responsible for acidification. There are a litany of potential advantages to a lactic-acid producing yeast: simplicity of maintaining a pure culture, reducing concerns about cross-contamination, and hop-tolerance.

Samples of two lactic acid yeast strains from Wild Pitch!Luckily for me, I contacted Dr. Matt Bochman of Wild Pitch Yeast and he sent samples of two strains to trial, YH72 (Hanseniaspora vineae) and YH82 (Wickerhamomyces anomalus). I wanted to try the two strains both in a relatively clean base beer, and a beer with aroma hops to take advantage of their hop-tolerance. To accomplish this I ran off two gallons of the wort post-boil through my plate-chiller.

I then sent additional cooled wort back into the kettle, lowering the wort to 175F for the whirlpool addition of Mosaic and Amarillo. I haven’t found that a cooler whirlpool retains more hop aroma than one at flame-out, but it does reduce isomerization. While the yeast were billed as not minding iso-alpha acids, from a flavor-standpoint intense sour and bitter don’t get along.

Hanseniaspora's anamorph (asexual) form is Kloeckera; in the past Vinnie Cilurzo credited K. apiculata with providing grapefruit notes to Russian River Beatification. Eureka Brewing has a comprehensive write-up about the species. Given that it can't ferment maltose, it wouldn't be effective for solo-fermentation. Luckily Hanseniaspora vineae seems to be able to ferment wort well enough (reaching 71% apparent attenuation in my tests). There is also some interesting research on H. vineae's role in wine where it produced a "more fruity and flowery wine... strong presence of phenyl ethyl acetate." This ester is described as having an aroma like rose, raspberry, floral, and honey.

Wickerhamomyces is interesting because it is positive for beta-glucosidase (source), killer yeast toxins (potentially to control malaria). Here is a post about glycosides I did from a couple years ago. Wickerhamomyces is also available with several other oxidative yeasts in East Coast Yeast ECY31 Senne Valley Blend.

While the hoppy portions eventually finished out at the same FGs as their low-hopped counterparts, it took longer (especially for Hanseniaspora). They certainly had me worried when they were only at 25% attenuation after a week despite a seemingly quick start. This may have been a result of a factor other than hops (I didn’t precisely measure out the yeast when pitching). In a production environment, pitching an aggressive brewer's yeast in tandem or staggered may be beneficial (although potentially tricky given the killer factor Wickerhamomyces can produce).

As far as cross-contamination concerns I don’t have any solid answers, but I hedged and ran them through my sour gear and tap. On the Milk the Funk Podcast about Lactic Acid Yeast my friend Matt Humbard compared the risk to using a Belgian strain noting that standard cleaning/sanitizing will kill them. That’s true of Brettanomyces as well though, but we deal with sanitation, not sterilization in brewing. These two species are found in lambic months into fermentation (The Microbial Diversity of Traditional Spontaneously Fermented Lambic Beer). That suggests that they can grow from a few cells initially in post-Saccharomyces-fermentation conditions, which worries me. What makes a dangerous microbe isn’t necessarily that it is hard to kill (although some are), but rather that it can reproduce and work in difficult conditions. That said, there are attenuative Saccharomyces strain that can cause serious issues.

The result were good, but more similar to Lactobacillus with a mild Belgian strain than anything approaching a classic mixed-fermentation. Compared to kettle souring, these lactic acid producing yeast allow for a more streamlined process. No need to heat the wort to pasteurize after reaching the target pH. Although you also don’t have control to “lock-in” acidity as you would in that case. Like a kettle sour, they really don't create exciting flavors, making them best suited for sour beers with big character from fruit, hops, or malt.

I recorded videos of the brewing process and my tasting notes. Enjoy below or on my YouTube channel! Apologies for being bad at taking photos and video at the same time.

Hoppy Hanseniaspora

Smell – Fruity, tropical, and lemon-lime. Really expressive hoppiness, without much green. The short dry hop contact time seems to have worked well. Not a huge aroma, but pleasant and fresh considering I brewed it two months ago.

Appearance – Has continued to clear with time, despite the wheat and oats. Beautiful golden color. Good head retention for the white moussey head.

Taste – A nicely cohesive flavor. Lactic acid is snappy, works well with the hops. Mild peppery-spice in the finish.

Mouthfeel – Medium body without any hop astringency. Firm carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – Reminds me of a lemonade, acid and citrus. Easy to drink on a warm evening.

Changes for Next Time – Not much to change on this one.

Hoppy Hanseniaspora beer in front/right, base next to the bottle.

Base Hanseniaspora

Smell – Much more expressive yeast than in the hoppy version. A little tropical, some cider, plus a touch of grain. It makes it easier for me to taste the contribution in the hoppy beer, glad the fruitiness adds to the hops in that case

Appearance – Clearer, and with more visible carbonation. Good head retention, thanks to all of the protein from the wheat and oats.

Taste – The finish comes across stale, likely from the cidery notes. Despite the lower pH it doesn’t taste quite as acidic.

Mouthfeel – Medium-thin body, medium-high carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – The yeast is interesting, but more as a novelty in this case rather than something that is able to carry a bland base beer.

Changes for Next Time – I’d want to try altering fermentation temperature, pitching rate etc. before writing the strain off.

Hoppy Wickerhamomyces

Smell – Less citrus, not as zesty. More fruit punch, maybe watermelon? Some toasty notes.

Appearance – The haziest of the bunch. Otherwise similar.

Taste – The lemon-lime hop character comes out more in the flavor than in the nose. Less perceived acidity compared to the Hanseniaspora in the same wort. Without tasting the version without the hops I’d think it had a toasty malt flavor, but with the clarity of the other version is seems like THP.

Mouthfeel – Similar, medium body.

Drinkability & Notes – It’s a good beer, but not quite as quenching and delicious.

Changes for Next Time – This is the real drawback of these strains, there isn’t an easy way to lower the pH of this beer without resorting to dosing or blending… unless someone figures out that a certain combination of time, pitching rate, aeration, nutrients etc. changes the expected final pH.

Base Wickerhamomyces

Smell – Big cider (bruised apple), a little acetic. Not a great nose.

Appearance – I was drinking this a little warmer in the video and it was clear. Hazy after a day in the fridge, which suggests chill haze is at work. Especially good lacing on this one.

Taste – Like the nose, cidery. Like the other low-hopped beer the flavor is almost stale. It just reminds me of an old saison in the finish, almost papery-oxidation. That isn’t what I’d expect from a relatively fresh and well-treated beer. Good lactic acid, but the muddy finish prevents it from tasting as bright as I want.

Mouthfeel – Thin and a little astringent.

Drinkability & Notes – Not a beer I enjoy drinking especially. The flavors are muddled and not especially appealing.

Changes for Next Time – It seems, like the other strain, this one needs a boost of flavor and aroma from another source. While it produced a good amount of acid, the other flavors produced aren’t appealing.

Hoppy Wickerhamomyces beer in front/right, base next to the bottle.

Hopade Recipe

Batch Size: 14.50 gal
SRM: 4.6
IBU: 34.7
OG: 1.052
FG: 1.010/1.015
ABV: 5.5%/4.9%
Final pH: See Notes
Brewhouse Efficiency: 82%
Boil Time: 65 mins

45.6% - 11.75 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
38.8% - 10 lbs Great Western White Wheat
15.5% - 4 lbs Simpsons Golden Naked Oats

Mash In - 45 min @ 152F

1.00 oz Mosaic (Pellets, 12.25% AA) @ 10 min
4.00 oz Amarillo (Pellet, 9.20% AA) @ Whirlpool (175F) 30 min
4.00 oz Mosaic (Pellets, 12.25% AA) @ Whirlpool (175F) 30 min
2.00 oz Amarillo (Pellet, 9.20% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 15
2.00 oz Mosaic (Pellets, 12.25% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 15

11.00 g Calcium Chloride @ mash
5.00 tsp 10% Phosphoric Acid  @ mash


1.00 Whirlfloc Tablet @ 5 min

Wild Pitch Yeast YH72 Hanseniaspora vineae
Wild Pitch Yeast YH82 Wickerhamomyces anomalus

Brewed 3/4/18

Mash pH 5.39 at mash temp after 4 tsp of phosphoric acid. A little higher.

4 gallon cold sparge with an additional tsp of phosphoric.

Added 1 gallon of water at the end of the boil.

Ran off 2 gallons of wort before any flame-out hops (~6 IBUs from the Mosaic). Chilled to 175F and added the whirlpool addition. Ran the rest off, chilling to 70F inline, shook to aerate.

Final wort pH was 5.39. No extra acid added to drop the pH.

Wild Pitch Yeast YH72 (Hanseniaspora vineae) and YH82 (Wickerhamomyces anomalus)

68F beer temperature.
Hoppy YH72 1.038 (27% AA), 3.79
Hoppy YH82 1.039 (25% AA), 3.73
Base YH72 1.030, 3.69
Base YH82 1.028, 3.51

Hoppy YH72 1.028 (40% AA), tart
Hoppy YH82 1.012 (75% AA), not very tart
Bases taste dry and tart.

3/21/18 Dry hopped each with 1 oz each of Mosaic and Amarillo.

3/23/18 - Kegged, moved to fridge to force carbonate.
Hoppy YH72 1.015 (71% AA), 3.38
Hoppy YH82 1.010 (81% AA), 3.52

4/7/18 bottled with 50 g of table sugar in 120 g of water (6 ml per bottle).

YH72 pH 3.33/FG 1.015
YH82 pH 3.37/FG 1.011

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Denali, Hazy Daze... NEIPA!

Near the end of the boil.I’ve given up writing recipes with more than one new-to-me hop variety. When the beer is ready, I don't know which one to credit (or blame). Only a handful of varieties are able to carry an IPA alone, so I often avoid SMaSH recipes too. I’d heard good things about Denali (aka Nuggetzilla, 06277), specifically that it contributes big-punchy pineapple. That didn’t seem like what I wanted as the only aroma in an IPA though, rather it struck me as a nice combination with a couple of my favorites: Simcoe and Citra! If the beer isn't good, I'll know who to blame. I have a pound of Cashmere in the freezer waiting for similar treatment in another batch of NEIPA.

Action shot of the final hop addition.For hop-timing, I changed things up slightly. Usually right at flame-out I add a big dose that I whirlpool 30 minute to impart the mouth-filling flavor that supports the aroma from dry hopping. In this case though, Scott talked me into adding some of the hops right as I started chilling. Quick chilling was a big emphasis for hoppy beers when I started brewing. In 2012 I transitioned to the hop-stand/whirlpool which immediately improved the character of my hoppy beers. Since then I have occasionally dabbled in splitting additions, but have mostly settled on the single large dose without pre-chilling. Scott mentioned that while researching his book-in-progress (The New IPA) he's read studies that suggest that the concentration of certain aromatics peak almost instantly. The question is, are during-chilling additions the most effective way to impart aroma, or are dry hops accomplishing that goal more effectively?

I also wanted to trial Hazy Daze (which The Yeast Bay just “promoted” to full production). This is a three-strain blend intended for hazy IPAs which they say contributes "peach, apricot, nectarine and grapefruit citrus esters." I thought it might be related to the three dried-yeast blend I used, but from the taste there aren’t noticeable phenols or nearly the banana or bubblegum it produced. For the rest of the wort I pitched London III, as a control.

Next NEIPA in the pipeline will be a fresh batch of Cheater Hops: Citra Galaxy to pour at the Maryland Craft Beer Festival on 5/12 in Frederick!

Two fermentors, two yeasts.

London III 

Smell – When it was first tapped it was pineapple juice, and not much else. Not artificial or objectionable, but assertive. It was the first thing I smelled, and the first thing my sister-in-law said when she tried an uncarbonated sample. While that character is still present it has mellowed, melding with the Citra into an interesting mix of orange, melon, and pineapple.

Hazy IPA with WY1318.
Appearance – Hazy glowing body. I’m sure a few readers will complain that it isn’t milky enough… I’m just too good of a brewer! Or we can blame the oat flour… I don’t want murky, muddy, or yeasty. Head and lacing are nice, despite the lack of Chit malt and hop extract.

Taste – The pineapple is the signature character, but it finishes all Citra-melon. A touch of hoppy-resin helps and present bitterness to balance the fruit. It is juicy, but not a juice-bomb. Malt is subdued, just a slight fullness in the middle. Not distinctly oaty. Solid bitterness, balanced by a fair sweetness.

Mouthfeel – Pillowy, rounded, all the good stuff. Moderate carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – The London III lets the hops speak. Not nose-in-the-hop-bag, but they retain their essence. The Denali has some of the same notes I associate with Sacch Trois (pineapple and a little sweaty), I think together they’d be too much.

Changes for Next Time – I might back Denali down to 1/3 of the hop blend with this yeast, but it is really fun as is. Denali could go nicely with the banana of a hefeweizen strain. Not something I would have thought about a hop that is mostly Columbus and Nugget parentage.

Hazy Daze

Smell – This half is somewhat less varietal, more citrus (tangerine) and less pineapple. It isn’t as obviously “hoppy” with more yeast-hop melding. I don't get anything extra special from the addition of hops during the chill, but then it is hard to know what to look for when using a new hop. Might be a little more aromatic that my last batch or two.

Even hazier IPA with Hazy Daze.Appearance – Perfect creamy head, great retention and lacing. Yellow, plenty hazy for my preferences, no murk or particulate.

Taste – Tastes drier, brighter, and more bitter than the other half. Still a relatively restrained bitterness compared to some NEIPAs. The hop flavor (citrus, pineapple, melon) is saturated throughout. Really full of flavor, and enough variety to keep me going back. Only mild sweetness, not especially rich.

Mouthfeel – Smooth, with just a hint of hop-astringency. Not quite as full as the best creamiest versions, but a bit more drinkable with the sudden warm weather.

Drinkability & Notes – Bright, hoppy, and not exactly like the typical blend of hops. The yeast helps to keep it drinkable.

Changes for Next Time – With the “alteration” to the hop character this blend seems like a great candidate for getting a citrusy hazy IPA without breaking the bank on fancy hops. I’d like to try this one in the Cheaper Hops paradigm.

Denali Haze

Batch Size: 11.50 gal
SRM: 4.2
IBU: 52
OG: 1.062
FG: 1.014/1.013
ABV: 6.3%/6.4%
Final pH: 4.61/4.70
Brewhouse Efficiency: 68%
Boil Time: 75 mins

90.4% - 26 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
7.0 % - 2 lbs Arrowhead Mills Oat Flour
2.6 % -.75 lbs Briess Caramel 10

Mash In - 45 min @ 154F

1.00 oz Denali (Pellets, 14.00% AA) @ 15 min
1.00 oz Simcoe (Pellets, 13.20% AA) @ 15 min
3.00 oz Denali (Pellets, 14.00% AA) @ Flame-out (30 min whirlpool)
3.00 oz Simcoe (Pellets, 13.20% AA) @ Flame-out (30 min whirlpool)
2.00 oz Denali (Pellets, 14.00% AA) @ 180F (rapid chill)
2.00 oz Simcoe (Pellets, 13.20% AA) @ 180F (rapid chill)
6.00 oz Citra (Pellets, 12.40% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 3
6.00 oz Denali (Pellets, 14.00% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 3
4.00 oz Citra (Pellets, 12.40% AA) @ Keg Hop
4.00 oz Denali (Pellets, 14.00% AA) @ Keg Hop

19 g Calcium Chloride
15 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)
5 tsp Phosphoric Acid 10%


1 Whirlfloc Tablet @ 5 mins

Wyeast 1318 - London Ale III
The Yeast Bay Hazy Daze

Brewed 3/18/18

Mashed with 9 gallons filtered DC tap and 6 gallons of distilled. pH 5.45 with 3 tsp phosphoric, so added 2 tsp more.

Lost a gallon of wort not closing the kettle valve before the transfer started... spraged with an extra gallon to make up for it and extended the boil.

Added first dose of whirlpool hops at flame-out. After 30 minutes naturally cooled to 180F. Dumped the first dose of hops, started the chiller and added the next dose to the spider for better contact.

Chilled to 67F, shook to aerate, pitched yeast. Both were packaged mid-January. No starter.

Left at 66F to ferment. Beer temperature 65F up to 67F by day 3.

3/21/18 Dry hopped both with 3 oz each of Citra and Denali. Still good krausens.

3/30/18 Kegged each with 1.5 oz of table sugar boiled in water and 1 g of CBC-1 without rehydration. Left at room temperature to carbonate. Under-primed to avoid the over-carbonation issues with Cheater Hops v1.

1318 FG = 1.014 (not enough beer left over to measure Hazy Daze).

4/3/18 Moved both to 38F. No apparent over-carbonation (thanks to no Mosaic?), if anything lower than expected.

4/13/18 Measured FG after warming decarbonating samples.

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Monday, April 2, 2018

Belgian Dubbel Pomegranate Recipe

In 2012 a neighbor and I brewed a Belgian Quad for Easter, spiced with cardamom and boosted with pomegranate molasses instead of dark candi syrup. I only retained a six-pack of bottles for myself before kegging the rest for his congregation's Easter vigil, but I was pleased with the results. Since then I'd also used pomegranate molasses in Dark Saison VIII.

Pouring pomegranate molasses into the wort.Audrey enjoyed the quad enough that she decided to brew a lower-gravity dubbel version to put on tap. We dropped the table sugar, and swapped out the CaraMunich for an English medium crystal (based on availability). We pitched half of the wort with WLP530 (Westmalle), which I'd used for the original batch. For the rest, we pitched Imperial Monastic (Chimay).

Rather than put both beers on tap next to each other (the kegerator was already packed) we tasted both before kegging. The WLP530 was more balanced, with a nice mix of spice and fruit. The Monastic had too much banana (isoamyl acetate) for our tastes despite fermenting in the low-70s. We decided to rack that one to secondary and pitch The Yeast Bay's House Sour Blend. We'll probably give it a dose of pomegranate juice before bottling.

This also seemed like a suitable warm-up for our first trip to Belgium in a couple months for our fifth anniversary! With the Sapwood Cellar opening looming this summer, it seemed like it might be my last chance to travel for now.


Smell – Balanced Belgian peppery yeast spice and dark fruitiness. Still has a fresh grainiess as well, something that you almost never get from imported dubbels. Neither the pomegranate molasses nor cardamom immediately jump out. It has a slight morning pastry character, which may be the influence of the spice.

Finished Pomegranate-Cardamom Dubbel!Appearance – Hazy leathery-maroon body with an off-white head. Retention and lacing are both underwhelming. Not a particularly appealing beer to look at it.

Taste – The pomegranate shows itself more in the palate, it’s light acidity lending a crisper finish than a usual dubbel. Lingering subtle red jamminess from the fruit. Again the spice character is primarily the peppery phenols from the yeast, perhaps melding with the cardamom to make it seem more sweet than savory. Caramel notes, but lacks the typical raisin that would be provided by Special B in many recipes. Minimal bitterness. No strong character from the Carafa II, despite not being dehusked.

Mouthfeel – Slightly full for a moderate-strength dubbel. Mildly prickly carbonation, bottle conditioning would be nice to serve it with more sparkle.

Drinkability & Notes – A really nice twist on a Belgian style that doesn’t walk all over the base beer. As Stan Hieronymus notes in Brew Like a Monk, "if the drinker can name the spices, it's a sign they are overdone."

Changes for Next Time – Not sure what is up with the appearance. On one hand it would be nice to add wheat to boost the head retention, on the other I wouldn’t want to add more haze. Hopefully with continued conditioning it clears up.


Batch Size: 11.50 gal
SRM: 15.8
IBU: 21.4
OG: 1.058
FG: 1.011
ABV: 6.2%
Final pH: 3.87
Brewhouse Efficiency: 73%
Boil Time: 90 min

41.5% - 10 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
41.5% - 10 lbs Dingemans Pilsen
8.3% - 2 lbs Thomas Fawcett Crystal Malt II
1.6% - .375 lbs Weyermann Carafa II
7.3% - 1.75 lbs Al Wadi Pomegranate Molasses

Mash In - 45 min @ 152F

2.00 oz Hallertauer Mittelfrueh (Pellets, 2.40% AA) @ 60 min
1.00 oz Northern Brewer (Pellets, 9.10% AA) @ 60 min

8 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash


1 Whirlfloc Tablet @ 5 min
0.50 g Penzeys Guatemala Ground Cardamom Seeds @ 3 min

White Labs WLP530 Abbey Ale
Imperial Yeast B63 Monastic
The Yeast Bay House Sour

Brewed 2/25 - Extended the boil as efficiency was lower than expected.

Fermenting beer temperature peaked at 74F. If I'd looked up the origin of the B63 before fermentation I would have suggested keeping it cooler despite the lab's 68-78F recommendation. Keeping it to 64-68F in this Belgian single nicely restrained the banana.

Kegged White Labs half on 3/10. Moved to kegerator to force carbonate.

Transferred the Imperial Yeast half to a plastic carboy and pitched The Yeast Bay House Sour.

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Pom-Pom Dubbel

Monday, March 12, 2018

Maple Bark and Maple Syrup Beer

Black maple bark harvesting.I'm suspicious of any "maple" beer that smells more like maple syrup than actual maple syrup does. The aromatics in real maple syrup just aren't that potent when diluted 10:1 and then fermented. Many breweries add some maple syrup (so they can put it on the label), but bolster it with extracts or maple-flavored coffee beans. Fenugreek is another, more natural, option used to flavor imitation syrups. Another approach is to add maple syrup to the chilled beer to preserve sweetness and flavor, but it doesn't make much simple sugar to overwhelm the usual beer balance.

Two years ago when I brewed my third Adambier (recipe) I added 1 quart of dark maple syrup to 5 gallons along with a cup of bourbon. The maple flavor was relatively subtle (tasting notes). After reading The Homebrewer's Almanac, I wanted to try their technique of harvesting maple bark, toasting it, and then adding it to the boil. I found the opportunity a year ago when I visited my parents. Ideally I would have used bark from a sugar maple, but the black maple in their yard was good enough for a first try.  I picked a spot that didn't have much moss growing on it and chipped off a small patch.

When I got home, I toasted the two ounces of maple maple bark in the oven until aromatic, 55 minutes at 350F. I then simmered the bark in two quarts of water for 60 minutes uncovered. After a few test blends, I opened the keg of Adambier and added one quart of the resulting liquid into about 3 gallons of beer.

Beautiful nitro pour on the maple Adambier!Double Maple Adam

Smell – The nose has a deep blend of vanilla and caramel. The bourbon and maple work synergistically, but it doesn’t have the obvious maple flavor. Raisins or prunes are starting to come out as faint signs of oxidation. Smoke is mild, a subtle background flavor giving the beer a savory quality.

Appearance – The body is nearly opaque dark-brown, but there is clear amber right around the edges. Tight tan head. Despite the year sitting pressurized with beer gas, the head retention is good but not great. With the high alcohol (including fortification) that may be the best I can hope for.

Taste – The woodsy-vanilla flavor I got from the maple bark in present in the flavor. I could see some people confusing the slight butterscotch note with diacetyl, but I get that in the syrup as well. Smoke plays with it back and forth in the finish, more defined than the nose. Sweet thanks to subdued hop bitterness, but not sticky. Alcohol warming is mild, despite the ~11% ABV (diluted from 12% by the bark-water).

Mouthfeel – Rounded thanks to the low carbonation and creamy head.

Drinkability & Notes – It’s a unique beer. Layers of flavors that make it a strong beer that is for savoring. That’s what I want in a ~11% ABV beer, something that would be impossible to achieve at a moderate ABV.

Changes for Next Time – I’d like to try the same technique with sugar maple bark to see if that flavor is a little more reminiscent of maple syrup. That said, this worked out well as is! Maple bark isn't the only bark that works, when I visited Scratch Brewing they had a beer with toasted oak bark on that had a coffee-like note. They suggest hickory, cherry, and cedar bark too.

I also took the book's suggestion to make my own imitation maple syrup by boiling the remaining 3/4 cup of maple-bark extraction with 1.5 cups of table sugar until it reached 219F. The amber syrup has a strong vanilla-woodsy flavor, and it works nicely (especially in savory applications). Not quite real maple syrup, but more interesting than pancake (aka telephone pole) syrup!

I recently stumbled into which is a user generated map of foragable plants. Taking the bark off a tree can be hazardous to the tree, so make sure you clear it with the person or better yet take it off a dead tree.

Maple bark syrup

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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Sapwood Cellars: Cheater Hops NE DIPA

Scott and I are still pushing forward towards opening Sapwood Cellars; here's a post with our January progress. In February we've started refinishing the tasting room floors and procuring tables and chairs while we wait on equipment and licensing. That said, the biggest influence on our brewery's success may be the fate of the competing bills to change Maryland brewery laws. Paste has a good write-up. In addition to their legislative work in Annapolis, the Brewer's Association of Maryland also throws occasional beer festivals. We decided to make their Love Thy Beer: Winter Warmer Showcase our public launch. Luckily for us they pull a license that allows new unlicensed breweries to pour homebrewed test batches.

Scott brewed a split batch of NEIPA, Oat Pillows was dry hopped with Simcoe, Mosaic, and Nelson, while Concentrated (recipe post) was ramped up to DIPA territory with the addition of white wine grape concentrate and wine yeast then dry hopped with Nelson Sauvin and Hallertau Blanc. Both were delicious, and the wine contribution to Concentrated really worked nicely.

For Cheater Hops, my contribution, I wanted to push big flavors hoping to make it stand out in a small pour. I went on the small-end of DIPA (or the big-end of IPA) to enhance the body and mouthfeel. My pre-boil gravity was a little lower than expected, so I extended the boil. Taking a cue from this NEPA, I went heavy on hot-side Simcoe and Columbus. To increase the citrus aroma I fermented with Imperial Citrus, their version of Sacch Trois (I especially appreciate their larger pitching rate compared to White Labs on this one), a yeast I'd used in Modern Times Neverwhere and this Juicy Pale Ale.

I dry hopped the half of the batch I brought to the festival with two of my favorite varieties: Citra and Galaxy! For the half to have on tap at home I tried Belma for the first time, which is usually described as strawberry, with Moasic as a counter-point. In both cases I added a first dose of hops late-fermentation and another in the keg. Rather than cooling the keg right away as I usually do, I primed each with sugar and 1 g of CBC-1, rehydrated. This strain was selected to only ferment simpler sugars and work incredibly quickly, scavenging oxygen, allowing a week of warm storage to increase hop aroma extraction. That said, 6 oz in each dry-hop mesh tube was really pushing their capacity, 4-5 oz is likely as much as I'll add in the future.

At kegging I added 1 mL of Kalsec Hexalone to each. In addition to being foam-positive, this isomerized hop extract also increases the perception of a "rounded" body. Eventually I'll have to do a side-by-side-by-side with Tetralone (used in this Stonefruit Vanilla Nitro Sour), and without any extract to get a better sense of the contribution. Kalsec markets Hexa is as Head Master, but the price and large size make it less practical for homebrewers.

One topic that has seemingly garnered more discussion among commercial brewers than homebrewers is "hop creep." Certain hop varieties (e.g., Mosaic) contribute enzymes that free fermentable sugars. This can cause problems. If most of the yeast has already been crashed out, the few remaining cells can resume an unhealthy fermentation, often leaving diacetyl. When I was in California several brewers dialing in their NEIPAs mentioned 58F as the "magic" temperature for dry hopping; warm enough for good extraction but cool enough to inhibit the yeast. I wonder if some of these unfermented simpler-sugars contribute to the perceived sweet "juiciness" of the finished beer? In this case the gravity dropped of the half with Mosaic/Belma dropped to 1.018 in the keg while the Citra/Galaxy keg was stable at 1.020. The result was a couple foamy pours until I vented the head-space sacrificing a portion of the aroma on the Mosaic/Belma.

For the Citra-Galaxy half I wanted to bring a "clean" keg to the festival to avoid stirring up the yeast and hop-particulate, so right before heading out I filled a clean keg to the brim with StarSan and pushed it out with CO2. This removes (nearly) 100% of the oxygen, better than pressurizing and venting multiple times, while using less gas. I then jumped the beer over using the process I outlined in this post.

The festival itself was a big success! Our rebuilt jokey-box poured well, we didn't run out of beer, and we met a lot of locals who were really excited for us to open. The beers were all well received from the comments we got, and I'll take a 4.34 on Untappd for this batch.

This video follows the process from making the yeast starter until we poured it at the beer fest!

Cheater Hops: Citra-Galaxy

Smell – Really big and bright: mango, tangerine, and pineapple. Smells Has a few green-notes, but not overtly grassy. The yeast supports those tropical and citrus notes from the hops without being obvious or phenolic. Minimal malt. Doesn’t have the “rawness” of hop aroma that some of my NEIPAs without keg conditioning have.

Appearance – Good head, but not spectacular. I’m not sure how valuable the isomerized extracts are in beers that are already so loaded with hops. They seem more valuable in sour beers which lack substantial hopping. Good level of haze, in fact hazier than most of my recent batches. Nice light yellow color with just a hint of gold.

Taste – Similar hop/yeast character to the nose, bright tropical fruit. Really saturated through the palate. Slight malt sweetness supports those flavors. Firm bitterness, in the finish, but not hop-burn on the throat.

Mouthfeel – Pleasantly full and fluffy. Carbonation is a little low on this one because I forgot to repressurize the keg after pouring it at the beer fest.

Drinkability & Notes – One of the best DIPAs I’ve brewed. The hops work together perfectly, I don’t “miss” the Citra and Galaxy on the hot-side. No dramatic color change when I left a small amount out overnight, thanks to no oats?

Changes for Next Time – Not much to change, really terrific hoppy beer that is worth the extra couple points of alcohol.

Cheater Hops: Mosaic-Belma

Smell – More subdued than the other half, perhaps thanks to venting the head space of the keg a few times. The aroma is more berry than tropical, but still has indistinct citrus notes. Doesn’t seem any greener despite still sitting on the keg hops, while the other is in a clean keg.

Appearance – Identical. I’d heard that Galaxy is especially haze-positive, but in this case both are plenty hazy without being murky.

Taste – Comes across as slightly more bitter. Maybe more hop-material in suspension thanks to the keg hops? The hop flavor is more strawberry here too, although the Mosaic prevents it from being too far from the usual. It’s a good flavor, but not as compelling.

Mouthfeel – Similar body with a little more carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – Good, but not one of my favorite batches. Still has a nice hop flavor, but the aroma doesn’t call me back for another sip like the best DIPAs.

Changes for Next Time – The Belma shows promise, but might be better at 25% of a hop blend rather than 50%. A way to add unique flavors without having to carry the aromatic load.


Batch Size: 12.00 gal
SRM: 4.5
IBU: 103
OG: 1.073
FG: 1.020/1.018
ABV: 7.0%/7.2%
Final pH: 5.53
Brewhouse Efficiency: 71%
Boil Time: 105 Mins

80.0% - 27 lbs Rahr 2-row Brewer's Malt
11.9% - 4 lbs Briess Flaked Wheat
5.9% - 2 lbs BestMälz Chit
2.2 % - 0.75 lbs Breiss Crystal 10

Sacch Rest - 45 min @ 156F

4.00 oz Columbus (Pellets, 14.00% AA) @ 15 min
6.00 oz Simcoe (Pellets, 9.00% AA) @ Whirlpool 30 min
4.00 oz Columbus (Pellets, 14.00% AA) @ Whirlpool 30 min
2.00 oz Amarillo (Pellets, 9.20% AA) @ Whirlpool 30 min

2.00 oz Belma (Pellets, 9.80% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 3
2.00 oz Mosaic (Pellets, 12.25% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 3
3.00 oz Belma (Pellets, 9.80% AA) @ Keg Hop
3.00 oz Mosaic (Pellets, 12.25% AA) @ Keg Hop
1.00 ml Hexalone (Extract, 50.00% AA) @ Keg

2.00 oz Citra (Pellets, 12.00% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 3
2.00 oz Galaxy (Pellets, 14.00% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 3
3.00 oz Citra (Pellets, 12.00% AA) @ Keg Hop
3.00 oz Galaxy (Pellets, 14.00% AA) @ Keg Hop
1.00 ml Hexalone (Extract, 50.00% AA) @ Keg

16 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) @ Mash
9 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash
5 tsp Lactic Acid @ Mash
1 Whirlfloc Tablet @ 5 min


Imperial #A20 Citrus

Brewed 1/14/18

Made a 2.5L starter on 1/12/18, yeast was 6 months old, but it started working quickly. 24 hours on a stir-plate.

All hops 2017 Harvest, except Simcoe (2014).

11 gallons filtered DC, 6 gallons of distilled for the mash. All salts and 2 tsp of lactic acid at the start. Measured pH at 5.51 (at mash temp), added 2 more tsp of lactic acid to 5.29, and 1 last tsp to 5.25 (~5.4-5.45 at room temp).

Collected 16 gallons of 1.060 wort. Extended boil to achieve target gravity. Chilled to 70F, shook to aerate, pitched.

Fermentation internal temperature relatively steady at 67-68F internal.

1/17/18 Dry hopped both halves in primary, loose.

1/26/18 Transferred both to kegs with the additional doses of dry hops and 1 mL of Hexalone. Also added 3 oz of table sugar and 1 g of rehydrated CBC-1. Left at 65F to carbonate. FG on both is 1.020.

2/3/18 Moved both the the kegerator and attacatt to gas.

2/15/18 Jumped the Citra/Galaxy half to a keg that I had filled with StarSan and then pushed out with CO2. Served at Love Thy Beer: Winter Warmer Showcase.

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Monday, January 22, 2018

American Oat Ale: Brew-Day Dry Hop Experiment

When we open sometime this summer, Sapwood Cellars' clean beer program will be focused on
hops... but don't mistake that to mean we'll have eight IPAs on tap at all times! One recipe-concept I'm working on is a hoppy beer for people who don't like IPAs. The idea of low bitterness, a little extra yeast character, and integrated citrusy aromatics from the hops. A gateway hoppy beer for the sort of craft beer drinker that usually orders a wit or shandy.

We'd like to keep our yeast situation simple to start. I'm a big fan of Allagash Hoppy Table Beer, which is fermented with their house wit strain. While that is appealing (and I've brewed a few delicious hoppy wits before) we likely wouldn't get enough use of a liquid yeast to justify it. There isn't a dried wit strain available, but I was inspired by a post about a supposed blend of dry yeasts used by Tree House (big shout-out to HBT's Isomerization): S-04, T-58, and WB-06. I kept the fermentation temperature at 60F ambient to restrain the yeast expression; I just want subtle fruitiness mingling with the hops... no banana-boat. Although I have had good luck with hoppy hefeweizens as well...

For the rest of the recipe I revisited an old favorite, Simpsons Golden Naked Oats, in hopes of providing a creamy mouthfeel in this moderate-gravity beer. For hopping, I opted for partial-chilling to 185F before the whirlpool addition to reduce alpha acid isomerization imparting more hop aromatics with less bitterness. I used Citra and Amarillo through-out, a callback to one of my all-time favorite recipes that I helped develop: Modern Times Fortunate Islands!

The big question I wanted to answer with the a split-batch was: how valuable is a brew-day dry hop compared to a now-standard late-fermentation addition? I added 2 oz of Citra and 1 oz of Amarillo to one fermentor immediately following the yeast, while the other had to wait for the same dose until day four of fermentation. The resulting difference is relatively subtle, however everyone I served the beers to blind has identified the late-dry hop as more hoppy/aromatic... but that isn't necessarily what I'm looking for in this beer! In terms of measurements, the timing of the dry hop did not appear to have an effect on the FG or pH.

After my first attempt at filling a keg through the dip-tube resulted in a clogged poppet several people suggested adding a Bouncer Filter in-line between my SS Brew Bucket and the liquid-out post. I bought one, and it worked like a charm catching the hop particulate large enough to cause problems. No complaints!

Here's a video of this batch from brewing to drinking!

Sapwood Session

Brew Day Dry Hop

Smell – Fruit salad, banana and melon. Mild toastiness from the oats.

Appearance – Hazy yellow. Not cloudy or murky, but not as hazy as many NEIPAs. The Golden Naked Oats didn’t add much color compared to my standard recipe. Head retention is OK, lacing is better.

Taste – Strikes a good balance between yeast and hops, with fruity flavors mingling from both to create something vaguely tropical. No big phenolic spiciness from the T-58 or WB-06, but I can taste a touch of clove as it warms. Not as bitter as the 40+ calculated IBUs would suggest thanks to the lowered whirlpool temperature.

Mouthfeel – Surprisingly thin considering the chloride, oats, and moderate attenuation. Carbonation is medium, where I like it for hoppy beers.

Drinkability & Notes – Really pleasant blend of styles and flavors. These are my favorite arguments against holding too closely to styles, even relatively new and broad ones.

Changes for Next Time – Still need to find a solution to the body being thin, but otherwise it is pretty close to what I envision for this beer. A good technique for adding more hot-side-type aromatics without additional iso-alpha.

Late Fermentation Dry Hop

Smell – Hops jump out more, vibrant and a little green. The two beers have converged a bit as they’ve sat on tap, but are still distinct to me. The Amarillo helps to temper the Citra, but

Appearance – Similar, although just a hair hazier. White head is the same.

Taste – The yeast is more obscured thanks to the outsized role the hops play, no clove. The Citra and Amarillo really shine: melon, orange, and tropical. The malt is also relegated to the background, preventing the beer from tasting like “hop water” but without a really distinct contribution.

Mouthfeel – The body is similar, although the later hops provide slightly more tannic bite. Identical carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – This one kicked first, but I also shared a few more growlers of it. I enjoyed it a bit more, even though it wasn’t exactly what I was going for!

Changes for Next Time – This is the better timing for a classic hoppy beer. It provides a more vibrant aroma, and there was no issue with oxidation despite being at the tale of fermentation.


Batch Size: 11.00 gal
SRM: 5.3
IBU: 41.9
OG: 1.058
FG: 1.017/1.017
ABV: 5.4%
Final pH: 4.33/4.31
Brewhouse Efficiency: 71%
Boil Time: 60 Mins

48.0% - 12 lbs Dingemans Pilsen
25.0% - 6.25 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
17.0 % - 4.25 lbs Simpsons Golden Naked Oats
10.0 % - 2.5 lbs BestMälz Chit

Sacch Rest - 45 min @ 156F

Whole Batch
6.00 oz Citra (Pellets, 12.00% AA) @ 30 min 185F Steep/Whirlpool Hop
3.00 oz Amarillo (Pellets, 9.20% AA) @ 30 min 185F Steep/Whirlpool Hop

Brew Day Dry Hop Half
2.00 oz Citra (Pellets, 12.00% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 0
1.00 oz Amarillo (Pellets, 9.20% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 0

Late Fermentation Dry Hop Half
2.00 oz Citra (Pellets, 12.00% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 4
1.00 oz Amarillo (Pellets, 9.20% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 4

17.00 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash
12.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) @ Mash
3.00 tsp 88% Lactic Acid @ Mash


1 Whirlfloc Tablet @ 5 mins

2.0 pkg SafAle S-04 English Ale
0.2 pkg SafBrew T-58 Specialty Ale
0.2 pkg Safbrew WB-06 Wheat Beer

Brewed 12/17/17

Mash pH measured at 5.2 at mash temperature. Collected 14 gallons of 1.049 runnings.

All 2017 crop hops.

Cooled whirlpool to 185F before adding whirlpool hops. Added heat to maintain that temperature approximately.

Chilled to 64F and pitched the yeast (Each got: 11 g S-04, 1 g each T-58 and WB-06). Half got 2 oz of Citra and 1 oz of Amarillo with the yeast.

Left at 60F ambient to ferment.

12/21/17 Dry hopped the second half with the same amounts. Fermentation appeared nearly finished. Warmed both to 65F.

12/29/17 Kegged both halves, first time using the Bouncer filter. Smooth filling into the purged kegs. Attached to gas in the kegerator. Both measured FG 1.017, Brew Day Dry Hop 4.33, Late Dry Hop 4.31.

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